Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 22, 343 to go

Friends. It is likely we sometimes take them for granted. Yet the beauty in being a friend and in having a friend is an unwritten truth, which says, "All will be forgiven, for I understand, and if I do not understand, then let it suffice that I trust." I love my friends. Unconditionally. When I am discouraged or feeling like a failure in some area, my friends have the angelic ability to provide an alternative lense by which to view myself, along with the calm assurance that all is well.

"The only service a friend can really render is to keep up your courage by
holding up to you a mirror in which you can see a noble image of
George Bernard Shaw 1856

I hope I might be the holder of such a mirror to my friends.

May each of us never forget that, "A faithful friend is a strong defense: and he that hath found such an one hath found a treasure." Ecclesiasticus 6:14.

Is it any surprise that it has been said, "He who has friends is rich?"

Planet "M" --Ah, we got our M&M characters on the wall today. They look great. Truly, there is an "M" in everyone. Good work kids!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 21, 344 to go

Hey... look at me... 3 weeks and still posting. Church was spite of the fact that I botched the practice hymn on the organ. It's not like you can cover up a mistake on that instrument. Today we talked about the watchtower and building strong hedges to protect our families. I wonder sometimes about all the holes in my hedges.... Well, that didn't exactly come out right, did it? I mean it in all sincerity.

Talked to my cousin Jeri tonight... first time in a decade. Great to reconnect Jo :

Bully Pulpit Vent of the Month:
Okay... so I got a bit miffed this morning as I thought about all the anti-organized religion whiners and activist. It's fine if you don't like religion, but don't be so arrogantly ignorant (yup, I said it...) as to call it evil. Yup... humans have done horrific things since the beginning of humanity... some in the name of religion, some in the name of God, but mostly horrific acts are committed in the name ignorance, hate, or greed. So, at least admit that some organized religion has been good for our country... and good for the world. After all, it was organized religion first on the scence at Sri Lanka after the psunami...organized religion first on the scene at New Orleans after Katrina... first to offer relief to displaced fire victims, earthquake victims, flood victims, and so forth.... First on the scene of so many tragedies! And why are they there? To help Christians? No. But to bring relief to all people who are suffering. All the great relief efforts provided so efficiently and rapidly by religions throughout the country... could not happen without organization. And... for those of you who arrogantly put them down... I wonder how quickly you would welcome their organized efforts if you or your family were faced with a disaster. Hmmm.

Okay... that's my vent for the month. Tomorrow I'll be good.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 20, 345 to go

I have to tell you about last night's dream (no, not Hitler again... much, much better!) It made me wake up laughing. I dreamed that my students and I decided to play a joke on Mr. Flesuras (our principal.) We all tied our shirts up so our midriffs were showing... shocking! I know. Definitely a violation of the dress code. Everyone participated, the girls AND the boys. It was hysterical. Mr. Flesuras walked into the classroom and gave one of the girls a harsh, stern look. I was afraid she was going to get in trouble, so I stood up and motioned for the whole class to follow suit. So, there we stood...all bare bellied, waiting for the laugh that never came. Mr. Flesuras then gave me a smug, "joke's on you!" look, and I knew something bad was about to happen. Just then, Mr. Ritter (Asst. Superintendent,) Dr. Leighty (Superintendent,) Chris Cordner (Asst. Superintendent,) and Dianne Vaez (Director of Curriculum,) all entered my classroom. I gave them the "deer in the headlights" look...They gave me the "bless your stupid little heart" look. They wandered around my classroom as I quickly scrambled to look professional... suddenly aware that I had not written my objects on the board. Ah,,, every teacher's nightmare. The only "school" dream I've had that was worse, was the one where I realized I had no clothes on. Luckily the brass missed that one :)

I don't think I want to know the interpretation of THAT dream ;)

Heard a funny line on the radio this afternoon. Comedian Dan Anderson said, "Having a kid is like getting a sloppy roommate who's never going to leave." No need to add my 2 cents to that one.

On a serious note, today my next-door neighbor passed away. She fought a 12-year battle against cancer; she finally succombed this morning at 7:30am...about the time I rose from my bed. The spirit around her home was serene and reverant as I paid my respects. Death is such a sacred part of mortality. Her passage was a peaceful one; now she lives without the oxygen tank that has been her constant companion for the past five years.

"Death, the sable smoke where vanishes the flame."
George Gordon

Sue's was a sweet flame. She was an honest sweatheart of a lady; she will be missed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 19, 346 to go

"Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own."
Charles Scribner, Jr.

Ah, where would we be without books? It's a bit weird to realize that when someone reads my novel they will be taking a trip through my mind, especially if they know me. That was the strangest part for my daughter... She said it was uncomfortable reading the romance scenes and knowing that they came from my mind. Hey, I was young once. Then there are the eerie, sinister parts that made my friends look at me like I was a complete stranger. "I had no idea all THAT was in your head!" Yeah, I get that a lot ;) -- even before I began writing.

Planet "M" -- We explored the process of osmosis today... Only a two spills this year :) Next week it's solar hot dogs... can't wait.

Had dinner with the Eichelbergers tonight.... Ahhhh more Germans !! Does this mean I'm going to dream about Hitler again? ;) We've GOT to do that more often, (Dinner,, not Hitler!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 18, 347 to go

"There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something"
Henry Ford

Sometimes, after a particularly great day of teaching, I experience the joy that Henry Ford is talking about. There is nothing, to me, that compares to the feeling that what I did during the day made a difference in somebody's life. In my case, it is the life of a child that I have the opportunity to impact. I believe it is every great teacher's dream to be a positive and moving force in their students' lives. So, call me an optimist or an idealist; I will wear the badge happily. And I won't tell you about the "other days" when I come home feeling like an old house dog... like I accomplished nothing of worth ....

Planet "M" -- Today I heard a hysterical story about a disgruntled parent who purposely placed sharp items in a parking lot so their ex would run over them and pop their tires. True story. Thankfully, this sort of thing would NEVER happen in a school parking lot ;) I got a million of these .... true stories that is, not sharp objects. We try to keep the sharp objects away from teachers. Some day, when I no longer need my teaching credential, I will write a book based on my assistant principal's experiences. If I didn't witness some of them with my own eyes, I would swear she was lying.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 17, 348 to go

Did you know that stressed spelled backwards is desserts? I just discovered this in the e-mail that has been floating around for the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Go chocolate!! In honor of this new information, I ate two (yep, 2!) chocolate chip dough cookies. Raw eggs... mmmmbaby!

"Pressure and stress is the common cold of the psyche." Andrew Denton.
Perhaps there is no cure for the common cold---but chicken soup sure helps. Maybe that's the key for handling stress as well. Gotta try it sometime.

Planet "M" -- Can't wait to hear the 30 second commercials the kids are preparing for Friday. That's how they will introduce their M&M characters to the class. Ah, the year is off to a great start.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 16, 349 to go

Every rejection I receive from an agent is proof that I have faith in my book--because every rejection is evidence that I DID something...and did not just sit around and wish I had an agent. I know in time the right match will be made. Meanwhile, I will continue with the process. I look forward to the day when my book(s) are available on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and Borders. ... Oh yeah, and in my school library, of course :)

Quote for the night: "It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not." Andre Gide. This brings me to my Planet "M" story of the day...

Planet "M"--Today I did something I have never done before...I barked at the counselors. I heard a rumor that I was to receive yet another student in my advisement, which is already ten over the legal limit. I marched into the counselor's corridor and rather impolitely voiced my disapproval. Could I have handled that better? Yup. I don't think I was liked very much today. Truth is, I would have a hard time giving up ten of my advisement students... legal limit or not.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 15, 350 to go

"It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny." Jean Nidetch.
Well, I don't believe I agree with this one--Ms. Nidetch must not have tried to land a literary agent in the 21st century.
I think Ellen Frankfort had it right, "Choice has always been a privilege of those who could afford to pay for it."
Uh oh... Do I detect a bit of sarcasm in my tone tonight? Oops.

Been researching Civil War etiquette for my nexst novel. It keeps me distracted during the torturous waiting game. Things have been too quiet on the agent/publishing front... too quiet for my comfort. Think I'll send out another wave of query letters... just to keep the flow going. It's a funny thing, but even receiving a rejection is better than silence. I know that is an insane comment to make... and likely is not true... but receiving any type of correspondence makes me feel connected to the process.
Silence feels oddly threatening.
Yup, that's my impatience speaking again... but what the heck... I have never been one to sit quietly and wait my turn! I have to keep moving---even if it's in the wrong direction :) Embarrassing to admit, but true nonetheless.

Planet "M"--- Today I got my first "You have GOT to be kidding me!!!" e-mail from a parent. It's the kind of e-mail that makes me wish I could say what I'm REALLY thinking! Ah, I'm all about PC communication... so I'll be big.

Yup! Hence the sarcasm.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 14, 351 to go

Two weeks... and they said it wouldn't last.

"But it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." Herman Melville.

I like this quote because it is sort of what I (and other authors,) experience in trying to get a book published. Publishers and Agents claim they are looking for something original, but more and more I see the same books published with different titles. I think of one rejection letter that I received from an agent that suggested I create more sexual tension between my main characters. Now I ask you, is that "original"? My main characters are not like others because they ARE original, as is their relationship. So, I would rather fail than change the dynamics of their relationship to satisfy an agent.

Loved having my daughter and her boyfriend this weekend. There is so much joy in motherhood.

Day 13, 352 to go

I am counting this as 8/22 because I began trying to post at 11:55 pm.... and because of technical glitches in my ancient, decrepid computer,,,, I couldn't get into the program until after midnight. So,,, technically I missed a day... but since I haven't gone to bed yet... it counts, gosh dernit. Well, there isn't anything to say... after all that moaning. Went to the beach today and collected rocks for my convection current smokers... and enjoyed getting to know my daughter's boyfriend. We initiated him into the family with a friendly game of dominos... We MAY have scared him off. I hope he doesn't sneak out in the middle of the night and run back to Utah.

Thought for the day:

"To teach is merely to fill a child's bucket; it requires action only on the part of the teacher. However, to educate is to illuminate, inspire, and empower a child. Rather than fill a vessel, it kindles a flame." Kathy DiRanna.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 12, 353 to go

Julie Onstott finished my manuscript and said she loved it. Made my day :) But the reality of this business is that loving it doesn't matter.... if they can't sell it to a publisher. So I will continue to wait PATIENTLY because I am so good at being patient, right?
"He that can have Patience, can have what he will." So says Benjamin Franklin. Ah, sigh... Deep sigh.

"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." So says Jean Jacques Rousseau. LONG, DEEP SIGH.

I want that sweet fruit that is promised to those who are patient.... I just want it NOW! Growl!

Planet "M"-- Survived the first week of school---a bit tattered and worn, but stronger. I can't wait to see my students' M&M characters and to hear their 30 second commercials. Language Arts is going to be so fun this year!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 11, 354 to go

"Public opinion is no more than this: What people think that other people
think." Alfred Austin

That is the quote for the day... and it is definitely the rule of thumb among middle school students.

Planet "M"---today we created M&M characters... Hey, there's an "M" in everyone. Don't believe me? Check out and create your own M&M character.

No news to report... no rejections, no requests for transcripts. Blisters on my feet from standing all day... getting back into the routine of teaching is rough business... but It's a wonderful profession. I'm never bored :)

Took my dad to the doctor today. Wow, in a few months he will be 90! And in a few weeks, he will celebrate his 69th wedding anniversary. Way to go Dad!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 10, 355 to go

I've got nothing! My 17 year-old --- the disappearing king --- never ceases to make me scratch my head, squint my eyes, and don a look that would put George Bush Jr. to shame. I would like to know how it is that his father, step father, sister, and myself can call every phone number we know to try and find this kid.... but "buddy Brian" seems to always know how and where to find him? Why IS that? Okay, e-bay isn't buying,,, how about Craig's List?

Okay, those are the frustrations of a mother... Of a truth, I love this kid. And it's a darn good thing that I do--or he'd be in the pooper right now.

"Planet M" update---I now have 44 kids enrolled in my advisement class. By contract, 34 is the limit. I'd say I'm a BIT overstaffed,,, would you agree? Ever tried to harness the energy of 44 twelve year olds---in a very small space? Good times!! And yet, other than the few poor lost souls who are still wandering the campus in a zombie daze, there are no stories to share. These kids are like stepford students. Let's see how long the honeymoon lasts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 9, 356 to go

The mystery of my day? Finding Taylor. He could give any magician a lesson in disappearing acts. The kid is going to be the death of me. Anyone want to buy a seventeen year old? If I ever find mine, I'm going to put him on E-bay!

Planet M--- I had a blast with 6th grade WEB. I am quite certain my classes are the best in the whole 6th grade! Aye, the classroom gods they be a smilin' down on me this year. Thank you!

Nothing new to report on my book.... but the voices are back :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 8, 357 to go

So Ellen, my 14 year old, tells me she has finally experienced the runner's high when she runs. In all my years, I've never experienced that...not unless you call that state between dizzy and unconscious a "high." I tried to run tonight...Let's face it, I am ridiculously weak and pathetically out of shape. My legs hurt, my stomach hurt, my lungs hurt,,, heck, even my teeth hurt. Am I just insane for trying to do this?

Good news for the rejection queen... she received a request for her manuscript from a literary agency. That's big news for writers. Way to go Jenny!

From Planet M---Gotta love those new 6th graders! There is always one with deer-in-the-headlight eyes...totally lost. They look up at you, afraid to utter a sound, and reluctantly hand you their schedule--hoping of course that you can read their mind and point them in the right direction. Ah, the rites of passage!

Tip of the day: Use car wax on your white board. Two coats will keep away unwanted residue from your expo dry erase markers. Compliments of Kelly Manzani.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 7, 358 to go

Frustrating... It's only been one week, and already I am bored with my own blog. Sad, huh? I mean really,,, what's in it for my readers,,, assuming I have any? So I vow to make this blogspot meaningful--or at least entertaining. I will attempt to include a thoughtprovoking question, a quote of the day, a funny or meaningful story, a profound thought, or a joke (although I am the world's worst joke teller!) After all, readers should take something with them when they visit someone's blog.

Look for entries from "Planet M"---some of my best stories come from real life haps at school. In order for Planet M to work, I will have to promise to be honest--even when it's politically correct not to be. Teachers rarely can say what they are really thinking!

INFP -- that's me. Introverted (why do you think I love to write?), intuitive, feeling (yes, I do have them,) and perceiving--I don't like closed doors, so I don't make decisions quickly. There is always a better idea. If you haven't taken the Myers Briggs temperament test yet, you definitely should. If you don't want to pay $$$ for the whole test (350 questions), then visit the Kiersey Bates version (70 questions). It's free, fun, and it provides great insight into your temperament.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

day 6, 359 to go

Today I watched An Affair to Remember for the umpteenth time. It never fails to deliver. Had frozen yogurt with Kathy and Twila, that was a treat. My friend, Mr. Guzman finished my book and left me with 2 pages of feedback. I think he is my biggest fan. Sharon Weaver called the story inspirational, and she thanked me with a very sweet note for allowing her to preview it. Can't wait to see it in print finally. Today was one of those beautiful days that makes it worth every penny to live in southern California. Temecula truly is a great place to live.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 5, 360 to go

Friday night... and how do I relax? Watching High School Musical 2.... and enjoying it. Is that sadly pathetic or what?
Had lobster tacos today for lunch with good friend, Charlene. It's the last time I'll have a real lunch hour for months. No freakish dreams last night... it was my husband's turn... he dreamed I was running off to a casino to meet a younger man. Hilarious! Hitler's girlfriend to cougar! Wow, I'm busy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 4, 361 to go

Happy birthday to Beth Arrington and Jonathan Rollings---my leading lady and man. Their characters were conceived one year ago this week during my then 4-mile nightly walk. Tonight I walked in honor of them; I'm glad I did because during my walk, I saw the opening scene of my next book. It's hard to believe it's only been a year since I started hearing voices in my head ;) Okay, I've heard voices my whole life... I admit it... but their voices were so distinct and persistent that I had to write about them. And so Etude was born.
Today was our official day back to school (teachers,) and soon I will welcome 180+ students into "Planet M." Every year is a new adventure... that's one of the beauties of teaching. Already students are contacting me to find out if there will be a "New Moon" club this fall. Of course there will be~!~! Bring your dazzle dust--it's sure to be sunny.
Oops, gained a pound. ... Darn that anniversary cake!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 3, 362 to go

Today I received a duplicate rejection from Jodi Reamer. It's the exact same rejection letter I got 3 days ago. I guess she (actually it was one of her assistants,) really wanted to make sure I got the message :) Okay, I GOT IT! Then while I was working in my classroom, my curriculum partner dropped by with the announcement that she absolutely loves my book. She said, "I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting THIS~! It's great!" Well, she doesn't own a publishing company or a literary agency---but she is a language arts teacher and an avid reader, so I consider her praise very valuable.
I went to visit my neighbor this evening. She is dying of cancer--a battle she has fought for over 12 years. This summer it finally got her. She only has 2-3 months left to live, and she becomes weaker by the day. Still, she remains positive and concerned about other's needs. She is such an amazing woman, and I am blessed for knowing her. I'm glad that I forced myself to walk over and introduce myself two years ago. It is way out of my comfort zone to do so, but I felt it was important for me to know my neighbors, so after battling with insecurity and shyness (yes, believe it or not, shyness!!) I finally made myself take that long walk next door. I've never regretted it.
Wonder what my dreams will hold for me tonight.... hopefully an new angle. Oh, confession--I did not jog today or even walk. Instead, I ate blueberry pancakes with my good friend, Judi.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 2, 363 to go

Day two and I'm' watching "17 Again" again. I love that movie--I have GOT to get me one of those spirit guides. Today I jogged for 2 miles without stopping. Of course, I speed walk faster than I can jog, but that doesn't matter, right? So, last night I dreamed I was one of Hitler's secret girlfriends. Where did THAT come from? Must be all the derrogatory things my sister-in-law said about Germany the other day. Well, the dream was freakish at best, but it gave me another idea that I might just have to develop (no, not the Hitler thing, relax.) Oh, and I better make the weight thing 15 pounds instead of 10,,, seems I put on some extra baggage this summer. Maybe I should add kickboxing to my list of things to do this year. Okay, that's just not going to happen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

365 days, 365 posts

Since I am the world's most ADD woman... and since I am famous for starting things that I never finish, I decided to issue myself a challenge. I am going to post a blog every day for the next 365 days. I KNOW you are all excited about that. And who exactly am I speaking to when I say that? I have no idea. There might be one or two people who actually read this blog---and to you I say "Sweetness!" There is no other part to my challenge--no subject of my attention--just cycles of the crazy lady as my beloved Raechel so affectionately refers to me. I don't even know what those cycles are. Perhaps after 365 days of posts, a pattern will materialize and I will see the cycle revealed. Hmm.

Since I will enter something everyday for the next year, you might as well know what I hope to accomplish during that time. Hold me accountable, ok? Make sure they are all checked off by next August 10th. Here is my wish list for the year--my "Ten Things To Accomplish This Year":
1. See my first book published
2. complete my 2nd novel
3. lose 10 pounds (what would a wish list be without that?)
4. pay off my credit cards (except for Macys... there will always be a balance on that one!)
5. have a literary agent
6. go to Hawaii for the first time
7. attend Raechel's college graduation
8. run for 3 miles without stopping (okay, I'll jog... that counts.)
9. win a jackpot in Vegas (just thought I'd throw that in there--what the heck!)
10. learn to play Chopin's Etude in E on the piano (play it well, that is.)
11. have my first mammogram (Okay, so this one is extra, but it's important enough to make it o my list. I'm embarrased to admit I'm 47 and have never had one.)

So my entry for today? Today is my 7th wedding anniversary with Ron. He's the hub on my wheel---he keeps me centered (whether I want him to or not,) as I spin out of control. It's our lucky #7. Feels like a lifetime.

About Etude

School has not even begun yet, and already students are contacting me to find out when my book, Etude, is going to be available. So here is the latest update for anyone who is interested. Currently, there is an agent reviewing my full manuscript. She has had it for almost 3 months. I don't know if that is a good sign, or a bad one. There are a couple of other agents who have the first 3 chapters, and there are three publishers reviewing the full manuscript. These are small publishers who only publish a small number of books each year. So, I have no concrete answers yet. I can tell you one thing... I have become well acquainted with rejection during the past six months. Wow! I am definitely collecting my share of them. I am learning, against my will I might add, to be patient. Meanwhile, I am also learning other valuable lessons about the publishing business. It is definitely not based on having a talent for writing, but rather having a well-known identity, an established audience, and/or knowing someone in the business. That is the cold, hard truth. Basically it is all about who has the potential to sell the greatest number of books--$$$. Forget social value, telling a great story, or creating memorable characters. That may have worked in years past, but that is not the business today. I am dumbfounded by the number of trash books that are published each year, while well-written novels are overlooked by agents and editors. So enough of my venting. I will keep you posted as things progress. Meanwhile, Beth and Jonathan are just going to have to remain in limbo :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I hate it when that happens!

So, I had a great dream a couple nights ago. I was having a random discussion with two men who I later found out were a publisher and his assistant. I began to pitch my book to the assistant, but we launched into a conversation about an idea I had for another book. The assistant stopped me in my tracks and said, "That's it! That's the angle we are looking for! Write that book and send it to me, quick!" Well, in my dream I began writing immediately, and I knew I was onto something big. The sick joke? When I woke up I couldn't remember what my idea was. Dang it! I HATE it when that happens!
Meanwhile, I'm becoming very well acquainted with rejection as I go through the "publish my book gosh darn it!" process of finding an agent and/or publisher. Someday,,, it will all come together. And when it does, I vow to help unpublished authors get published.